Gallup Has Only Once Seen More Support for Removing a President During Richard Nixon’s Administration


When President Trump’s 2020 campaign claims that Democrats have always wanted to see Trump impeached, it’s not entirely incorrect. While the Democratic Party’s establishment has only relatively recently embraced the idea of impeaching Trump, Democrats broadly — that is, voters — have long approved of the idea.

Polling from Monmouth University earlier this month makes that clear. Support for impeaching Trump has been steady since Monmouth started asking about it (shortly after the appointment of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller), powered by support from Democrats. It has moved in parallel, in fact, with support for the president himself, measured as job approval. That, of course, is powered by support from Republicans.

That staunch, consistent partisanship is a tricky combination. Democrats haven’t budged in wanting to see Trump booted from office, and Republicans haven’t budged in wanting him to stay. It makes comparisons with past impeachment threats — like that faced by President Richard Nixon — tricky.

Nixon’s approval rating was inversely correlated to support for removing him from office. As the latter went up, the former went down. The result is that comparing where Trump is to where Nixon was creates a weird division.

New data from Gallup released on Wednesday shows that Trump’s approval rating — 39% — is about where Nixon’s was in the middle of 1973. The level of support for impeaching him and removing him from office, though — 52% — is essentially where Nixon’s would have been right before he resigned in August of the following year.

There has been movement. In June, Gallup had Trump’s job approval higher and support for impeaching him lower.

The problem here is that we only have two data points. Yes, there’s been an increase in support for impeachment, but there have also been a number of new developments that have put new pressure on the president. In June, Trump hadn’t yet spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, for example. Nor had Democrats formally begun an impeachment inquiry. So is this a quick jump up? Or is it the start of a long-term trend? We’ll have to see.

What it does highlight is how uncharted the current territory is. Gallup’s report on support for impeaching Trump notes that only 32% of the country wanted to see President Bill Clinton removed from office in late 1998. Meaning that the only time Americans have ever told Gallup they more strongly support impeaching and removing a president from office — on Aug. 5, 1974 — that president was gone four days later.

Which is, again, why it’s so odd for Trump to be openly fighting with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

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Source: Boston Globe